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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Volusia County

Local artist defies age, paints murals and portraits
Rating: 3.09 / 5 (153 votes)  
Posted: 2010 Mar 11 - 22:09

By Wayne Grant


ORMOND BEACH - After a lifetime of creating art, Summer Ku'ulei Kirn is still going strong.

"I'm 80 and a half," the Ormond Beach woman said recently, smiling like a child who can't wait until her next birthday.

Her age doesn't bother her or slow her down.

"I'm always eager to see what I'll be doing the next year," she said. "I've had a lot of energy my whole life. I can't sit still."

Indeed, she has accomplished a lot over her 80 years, including painting hundreds of portraits and murals throughout Volusia County, where has lived for the past 10 years.

For portraits, she paints people or their pets and works in pencil or oil. It's her favorite type of art.

"I'm probably the cheapest in the area because I enjoy it so much," she said.

Her murals are on garage doors, pool enclosures, and both exterior and interior walls of homes and businesses throughout the county.

They can be seen on every floor of the Hawaiian Inn in Daytona Beach Shores and assisted living facilities throughout the county.

The most readily visible mural in Daytona Beach is a beach scene on the wall of Humphreys' Jewelry on Main Street.

Laura Humphreys said she and her family love the painting.

"I think it has beautified the area and it's held up so well," she said. "We tell customers to look for the beach scene with the light house."

It took Ms. Kirn about eight visits of a few hours each to complete the mural.

Recently, she painted a garage door for Bonnie Bostrum of Ormond Beach.

"It's so beautiful that walkers, bicyclists and drivers stop and many take pictures," Ms. Bostrum said. "Since then I've had her do portraits of family members and I'm amazed at her work."

Ms. Bostrum said she considers Ms. Kirn a "community treasure."

She was born and raised in Hawaii, where her art career began. She said her murals can be found all over the Big Island.

"I ran out of walls to paint on," she said, laughing.

Ms. Kirn is a fourth generation Hawaiian, but she's not of Hawaiian descent. Her ancestor that settled there was a ship captain from Maine.

Everyone in her family has a Hawaiian name. Her middle name, pronounced Ku-uu-lay, means "beloved one."

Art is not the only thing that Ms. Kirn has been involved with in her life.

In the credits for the 1996 movie "Race the Sun," starring Halle Berry, she is listed as co-producer.

She said she actually wrote the movie about a group of Hawaiian high school kids who designed a solar powered car and competed in a race in Australia.

She said Tri-Star Pictures hired a scriptwriter to rewrite her story (which she said wasn't necessary) and it took several years of legal fights to get paid what she thought was a fair amount.

In 1993, she raced a car from Victoria Station in London to Milan, Italy in a road rally. She had a friend who was involved in publicity for one of the car owners and he took her along when he was asked to drive a car.

She said she has gone scuba diving everywhere from the Florida Keys to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and gone hang gliding and parachuting in DeLand.

These days, while not creating art, she stays busy working in her garden and around the house. She constructed her own outdoor shower enclosure and fence around the pool.

She even built the framework to have a 150-foot concrete driveway poured.

"I was a mere 69 years old when I did that," she said.

For information, call (386) 441-6766.

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